“MOSQUITO SEASON” by Max Carpenter
Swat those Thursday blues away and solve the puzzle
Constructor: Max Carpenter
Theme: Theme answers contain ITCH, which must be scratched out for the crossing Down answers to makes sense.
- 20A: QUIDDITCH MATCH – Hogwarts sporting event
- 28A: SALES PITCH – Commercial spiel
- 45A: SWITCHEROO – Trick like Rickrolling
- 51A: SCRATCH THE ITCH – Give in to a nagging desire, or how to make sense of many of this puzzle’s Down entries
Ben: I really enjoyed this. I got QUIDDITCH MATCH immediately (DWaHPR: 0), but immediately got stumped on the crosses, for obvious reasons. I figured there was a tricky theme since it’s Thursday, but it still took me a while to figure out exactly what. And points for a perfect revealer — I’m kind of surprised this hasn’t been done before, but I don’t remember seeing it.
Michael: Hey, nice job on getting the ITCH’s to look like ghosts.
Lena: I found leaving stretches of blank squares in the themers to be pretty unsatisfying; I like finishing with a completely filled in grid. Leaving the itchy ITCH’s in was equally unsatisfying because of the resulting gobbledigook in the Down direction. Maybe if I’d just pencilled my own black squares in, hmm… Well, I guess overall I wasn’t too thrilled with the theme BUT I did think the revealer was really good as a phrase and as a theme gimmick.
Ben: The joke lands a lot harder because there are so many long answers passing through the ITCHes — NEPTUNE, SPACESHIP, POKER CHIP — these would be good answers even without the extra twist. I particularly liked seeing RITTER (41D: Krysten who plays Jessica Jones in the upcoming Netflix series “Jessica Jones”) — that’s out on Friday, and I’m really looking forward to checking it out.
Michael: Yeah, I have no idea who that is or what that is, which is mildly weird, as I’ve been all up in Netflix in the past week watching “Master of None.” Or maybe it’s not weird. Netflix doesn’t really advertise its upcoming shows *inside* my Netflix app. Hmmm … you’d think self-promotion would be something they’d do beyond the bounds of the DVD envelope. Sorry, what were we talking about?
Lena: Netflix and fill?
Ben: A bunch of the stuff that passes through ITCH is clued pretty easy, especially NEPTUNE (10D: Farthest planet in our solar system from the sun now that we ditched Pluto) — probably a good idea, since it immediately tips new solvers off that something weird is going on here.
Michael: This puzzle was easy, even by BZF standards. The cluing was toned down to acceptable levels of poppi-/slanginess for me. Fill is tame, but clean. Mostly. I’m stunned (like, floored) that Caleb let INRI anywhere near one of his puzzles. When I see something like that, or, I don’t know … ETTE … I feel like BZF is betraying me.
Lena: But hey, Michael, days without SYNOD: 0 (previously 8) <high five>
Ben: Fill is pretty good. I don’t know who DIO is (32A: Ozzy’s Black Sabbath replacement), but otherwise no major issues. I’m sure some people has the same reaction to P DIDDY (4d: Puffy, once), so fair’s fair.
Lena: Mr. Combs has certainly changed his title a lot but I had no trouble there, and I’ve come to share Peter’s love of what I call “consonant congo lines” in the fill.
Ben: My favourite clue is probably the one for NEPTUNE above. Worst clue is 13D: Places to stock the lake with a brown trout across the pond for WC’S — ew.
Lena: Sometimes I wonder if Beavis and Butthead are test solvers…